martes, 4 de septiembre de 2012
sábado, 21 de julio de 2012
jueves, 17 de mayo de 2012
Two years that have brought a lot and have taken away a lot too. With several ups and downs; with happy moments and not so happy ones; with lots of news and changes, but the most important thing, two years of sharing with all of you all my anecdotes in this path that is migrating to Australia.
Finally, I’m writing from my new and gorgeous home: Sydney!!!
This is what I wrote last year, and I think I’ve accomplished every aim I set myself with this blog. From now on, my only goal is to keep writing about the settling process and about life here, in order to keep helping people who want to address this exciting adventure.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY BLOG AND READERS!!!!!
Ok…. in my last post I talked about how I found a job, well, actually started writing about it, but I never finished it, so this is the second and last part on how I found my full time job.
4.- The interview:
The day of the interview arrived, Thursday 3 May. I had prepared everything during the previous days. I also went to the place where the interview was a couple of days before just to know for sure where it was so I wasn’t going to be late.
That morning, Ale, a friend, went to my place and helped me with lunch (bought sushi and brought it home hehehe), talked with me in English for me to be a bit more fluent, and came with me to the place of my interview. We arrived at Central at 2pm (my interview was at 3), and sat until 2:35 in a nearby coffee shop, talked for a while and had a chamomile (for the nervousness).
I arrived at 2:45 at the Dean’s Unit (always show up for an interview 15 min before, not more than that), sat for 5 minutes there until the Head of School, Heather, came out, introduced herself and invited me to follow her. While walking she said: “We will have about 30 minutes to talk”… Meaning: the interview was going to last half an hour.
We arrived at a conference room, where three other people were: the Director of the program in Urban Planning, the Director of the research centre “Centre for Contemporary Design Practices” and one leading Senior Lecturer. I sat down and the interview formally started.
They went directly to the point, so the questions were really focused on their selection criteria. What did they ask me (you could use them and relate them to your own work field after some “adaptations") and what did I answer (a tiny summary of the answer) – remember that all the answers are CLOSELY related to the job ad and the selection criteria:
1.- Tell me three strengths you have and how can they relate to the Urban Planning Program? What can you bring to the program?
I am flexible enough to adapt to different multidisciplinary backgrounds and to work with different projects and assignments at the same time.
Since I am a non-English background lecturer I can relate with the needs of non-English background students, and help them understand more easily the subjects we are discussing.
I am really organised and a good planner, which is appropriate in lecturing and researching when trying to achieve goals such as publications.
2.- Tell me about a time you had a problem working in a multidisciplinary team; and what do you think is the greatest challenge in working in multidisciplinary teams?
I described a STAR response:
Situation: In my last job in a participatory design meeting a social worker was encouraging the community to make more demands, creating a disruption in the design process.
Task: I had to control the situation, neutralise the social worker and make the participatory design process to continue smoothly.
Action: I assigned one of the team member to continuo with the design process. I took aside the social worker, explained to him what we were doing and how he could work with us, which he fully understood.
Result: After the quick discussion the social worker apologised, got in track with what we were doing and collaborated with all. In the end, we successfully finalised the participatory design process, in which both the community and the technical teams were happy with the proposed house. [always a happy and positive ending].
In conclusion the most challenging thing about working in multidisciplinary teams is for each member to fully understand what the other professionals are doing in the project.
3.- Do you have a specific research area and focus? Because I see here in your resume that you are finalising Psychology.
For this answer I asked if I could tell a bit about myself and my professional development because it related to my research focus. (Always ask for feedback)… they said “ok, of course”, and they I started telling on how since my master I always cared about designing for people, and after that working in a research with environmental psychologists and how that was vital for me to define my working interest. So, I studied psychology to get a better understanding on the processes relating the human being and their built environment.
Since all that, my research interest is the relationship between culture and cultural expressions and the built environment, specially the public space.
4.- Tell me about you teaching approach and what do you think it is the challenge in teaching nowadays?
My teaching approach is student-centred… and the challenge nowadays is to jump from a traditional approach where the teacher is the expert to an more equalitarian education where every person in the class contribute to the learning experience.
5.- When are you finalising your PhD?
In the last trimester of this year. [btw, I have to work HARD to achieve that, but now I just HAVE to, and I WILL].
6.- If you were the chosen candidate, when would you be able to start?
I am currently available, so I could start whenever it suits the institution.
After that they asked me if I had any questions, and that my friends is THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE INTERVIEW. Why? Because there you can not only show that you’re interested to get to know more about the position, but also it’s the opportunity to demonstrate what you researched about the company / university.
In my case I asked three questions:
- I read on your website that you have three postgraduate courses and that in two of them you have sustainability, urban design and planning theories courses. Is the lecturer position related to any of those subjects?
- I also got to know that you have several research centres in the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Building. Would the chosen candidate be able to affiliate to any of those centres? How does research work here at UTS regarding that?
- What are the next steps in the selection process?
To the last question they answered they were going to take a few days to review their notes from the interview process and the reference letters.
The interview lasted for 20 minutes in total. So I left happy about it, but with just one thing on my mind: they didn’t like me so it ended really quickly or they were dazzled by me and they didn’t need more time to make up their mind to hire me.
5.- The call:
The next morning at 8 am, I wrote an email to Heather to thank her and the panel for the interview… and at 8:30 I got a call on my mobile that I couldn’t get at the time…. As soon as I could, I listened to the voice message (it was Heather) and I called her back right away.
She said: “Hi Gabriela, I am calling regarding your interview yesterday. We thought it was really great and we are quite impressed with your teaching experience and your research background, so we’d like to offer you the job”.
As you can imagine I started jumping of happiness all over the unit!!!!!
We talked for a few minutes and arranged a meeting the following Wednesday.
This week HR sent to me by email and post my contract package. So I am officially contracted by UTS as a Lecturer in Urban Planning… well, actually I’m still in the process of it, filling out all the forms and getting to understand about UniSuper (which manages academic staff’s superannuation).
I’m starting late June, so I have enough time to prepare for classes, which start in August.
Despite that, I already had a work meeting with Heather and next week I’m going to attend as a juror to the pre-final presentation of “Group Project A: Urban Renewals” (one of the courses I’m teaching next semester). I’m really looking forward to that.
And as you imagine: I’m really excited and happy about my new job.
To finalise this post, I’d like to make a balance of this three months here and the things I said I should have already done by now:
Start the skillmax course: started, finished it and found it really helpfull.
Elaborate my portfolio: also did it… I finished it for my UTS interview (because they asked for professional practice experience), and didn’t use it. However, I don’t regret one bit investing time in this task.
Work on my thesis: haven’t done that jet… but going to start really soon… at most Monday next week…. full steam ahead!!!
Look and apply for jobs on a daily bases: didn’t do that either… Instead I focused on giving the best of me in my tutorial at UNSW and in applying the best I could for jobs that fit me.
Look for a place to move: did that!!! I have to write the post about it. However I’ll give you a little glance of that… I live a lot closer to the city, where I can ride a bike almost everywhere (I will ride to go to UTS), and I live with the most amazing czech girl.
Socialise with my friends here: ok… doing that!!!! hahahahaha…. every time I can.
Buy some things for when I move: did that… thankfully my roomie had lots of stuff so I didn’t have much to buy.
Go to yoga classes: did that, but right now I’m waiting to start at UTS, because the have a Fitness Centre (right across the street from my office) that offers yoga classes, and that have really good prices.
That’s it for now…. it’s been a really long post so far … hope you enjoyed it.
jueves, 10 de mayo de 2012
I GOT A JOB!!!!
Now… a friend just asked me last week, before my interview, if I thought I have invested my time properly in the job seeking issue, and my answer at that time was: I’ll tell you after I know whether I got this job or not.
As you can imagine, now my answer is: Ok, yes, I think I’ve invested my time properly regarding the job search.
You may think, that was luck!!! And it may be a little bit of that involved, but I’ll tell you what happened and how I did it.
1.- Looking ahead in time:
As I told you in a previous post, networking is an important factor in the job search process in Australia, so, last year even prior I had my visa, I took the opportunity to come here and let myself to be known in my discipline. If you don’t have such an opportunity, well, create it yourselves. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.
From that I got my first casual job (local experience) and one of my referees.
So (again) networking works!!!!!! Be on top of that!!!!
2.- Applying for jobs:
I’m not going to talk about how to look for a job and how to apply for them, because there are too many blogs and forums that provide that information in a very detailed way. However I’m going to lay out some tips about it while letting you know my personal experience.
As I said before, I only applied in total for 6 jobs. The first two was as an Urban Designer in the City of Sydney. One of them was a little bit out of my league, and the other one was perfect (I applied the second day I was here). However, when applying for Local Government job (as well as other institutions such as universities) besides from the cover letter and the resume, you have to address the “Selection Criteria”.
What is that? what is the selection criteria? Well, the institutional ads are quite longer than private industry ones, because the have to give an extensive description of the position and the selection criteria they are going to use to select the chosen candidate. For that you have to write (sometimes also in an extensive way) why and how you have each one of the criteria they ask for.
So, in the City of Sydney application I didn’t know how extensive that had to be, so, after finishing the Skillmax course (for more info read: Skillmax and finding a place to live), I look at that application and I wouldn’t have hired me either. Why? The resume wasn’t completely in the Aussie way, the cover letter didn’t EXACTLY address what they were asking for, and the selection criteria document I sent, well, I’m not even commenting on that. So, bottom line: the Skillmax course does help!!!
The third job I applied was also PERFECT for me: it was a a Lecturer in Urban Planning in UTS. It was the perfect fit for me. A 2,5 years contract, doing exactly what I did in Venezuela: teaching Planning Theories and Urban Planning Studio (workshops), researching, and occasionally external consulting. For that I applied EVERYTHING I had learnt so far in the Skillmax course (we had just finished with resumes and cover letters), and addressed a lot better the selection criteria, not really great, but at least a lot better. That was on the 23 March.
Then in the 2nd and 3rd weeks of April, I applied for 4 jobs: one of Project Architect, one of Interior Designer, one of Revit Documenter and one of Interior Design documenter. The two latter were basic jobs, but I still applied, and the other two were alright, not perfect, not even close, but alright. Well, for those applications I took under consideration everything I learnt in the Skillmax course, however, no responses yet.
Regarding architectural related jobs:
- It’s not that easy… not impossible, but definitely not easy.
- Recruiters don’t usually work with people that have no local experience, so it’s better to do some cold canvasing or to try to get in touch with other working architects (networking once again)
- Bring your portfolio done when you come to Australia
- Learn how to use Revit (a program)… 80% of positions require it!!!
- Start researching and learning about the BCAs (Building Codes of Australia). This depending on what you want to do as an architect.
In general the moral of this part of the story is: apply for different jobs, even if they are not the perfect fit for you, but also you have to look for a job that says “YOU” all over the ad and really make a huge effort in that application. Remember: the resume gets you the interview, not the job… but you HAVE to get the interview first.
3.- Getting an email / call + preparing for the interview:
Of the 6 jobs I applied, I only got one positive response: I was contacted by UTS via email (Tuesday two weeks ago) to attend the 3 May (Thursday last week) an interview at the Dean’s Unit. That same day they contacted me, the Head of School, Heather, contacted via email all my referees asking for some references.
From that day on (for a bit more than a week) I only did one thing: PREPARE FOR THE INTERVIEW.
How to do that (what I did regarding UTS):
- Research about the selection process. From that I knew it was only going to be ONE interview, and that it had to be minimum of half an hour.
- Research about the company. In my case, I read EVERYTHING on the website about UTS; about the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building; about the School of Built Environment (where the position was); about the programs and courses they offered; about how I could fit into those courses; about the staff that worked there…. EVERYTHING!!!
- Prepare a list of possible questions they may ask you… and write the answers to them. In this case I had a list of 30 questions, from which the first 10 were related to the selection criteria. In the answers always give examples, and if they are behavioural questions (they assume past behaviour predicts future actions) use the S.T.A.R method: Situation – Task – Action – Result… and the result always MUST be a positive one.
- Prepare a list of possible question you may ask. This is even more important than the previous point, because it shows your interest in the position and in the company.
- Role-play the interview with a friend. I thank Yoshkar a great time for doing this for me. I emailed him the position description, the selection criteria, my entire application and the 30 questions (without the answers), and we spent all Saturday afternoon practising and revising some important tips about the interview process, such as during the interview it’s good to ask for feedback (f.e.: “Did I answer your question?” “Is it ok this level of details or do you want me to discuss this a bit further?” “Would it be ok if I give an example on that area?”).
- Prepare your portfolio. This is not only for architects: it is highly recommended for you to bring to the interview a nice folder with the job ad, your resume, well the entire application) and some examples of your work. In architecture this grows by adding your professional portfolio. I must say I did this, but I didn’t use it at all. However, I don’t regret spending a long time in this, because it helped me prepare a bit more, and helped me feel a bit calmer during the interview.
- Prepare what you’re going to wear: not a silly thing. You have to be dressed properly. So think about it and don’t leave it to the last day, just in case. (Thanks Tocaya)
- Try to speak only (or mostly) in English the days prior to the interview… and most of all the actual day of the interview… Try not to speak in your mother tongue that day.
Bottom line: PREPARE FOR THE INTERVIEW!!!!!
Now, this post is getting too long, so I’ll leave this first part until here. For the next post (coming really soon), I’ll describe the rest of the process, from the interview until now.
lunes, 2 de abril de 2012
Well... I know it's been a long time since I wrote in my blog... And I also know that I've owed you this post on how to get a mobile since a very long time.
Well, after three attempts of getting a smart phone, well I did, I bought myself an iPhone.
Just for you to know, in my case I wanted an iPhone, since in Venezuela I limited myself a lot due to insecurity, and as simple as I didn't want to pay SUCH an amount of money just to won't be able to use my mobile freely. And of course there was this issue called: saving to come to Australia. Well, the thing is I wanted to get an iPhone just as a present to myself for all the accomplishments I made by "just" coming here with a PR.
How did I do it? Well, as I told you in some previous posts, it's not as easy as we imagine to get a mobile plan when you just arrive (if you don't have a lot of luck like Cari and Arturo -2 friends of mine- that got theirs within a week)... Why is that? Because you don't have a job!!!
How does mobiles work here?:
Ok... As in the rest of the world, here you have prepaid and postpaid plans you can enrol to. If you get a prepaid, no matter the operator, you can bring your own phone or buy a new one. If you want this last option you can get pretty decent phones like the Samsung Nexus f.e.
You can get decent prepaid (plans) for A$ 30-40 including credit to talk, SMS and data.
If you want to get some other mobiles as the Samsung Galaxy II or the so mentioned iPhone, you have two options: buy it (the latter of 16 GB costs about A$ 799) or enrol with a (postpaid) plan.
Plans here work that you pay a monthly fee for 12 or 24 months with a specific operator and within the cost you pay, you are buying the mobile.
Just to give you an idea, f.e. an iPhone 4S of 16Gb plan can cost aprox. A$ 65-70 (getting almost the same credit and data than the prepaid one wrote about).
The day after I got here I went with really high hopes to the Telstra store in Parramatta to get my mobile plan. I brought all the documentation some friends had told me I needed:
- Bank statement with current address
- Medicare receipt (because I didn't have the card yet)
I got to the store, and the clerk said that I needed another Aussie ID document because the Medicare receipt wasn't enough. So he couldn't do anything about it, and advised me to get a Photo ID from the RTA... And that that was going to be the only thing I needed to get the phone. He even saved it for me in the counter!!!
The next day I went to the RTA, got my Photo ID, and went back to the Telstra store.
Talked to another clerk that was in charge of my application, gave her all the documentation, and... It was all perfect, I passed the identification test!!!
We went down to the computer started filling out all the application fields, I even selected my mobile number... It was all going PERFECT until we hit the financial section.
It doesn't matter if you have a loaded bank account; if you don't have a job, you don't have financial reliability. So went she wrote "self employed"... And she clicked the "next" button, a buzzer came off and what? "application denied". She called the financial area of Telstra and they told her to recommend me a prepaid plan.
So, no iPhone for me.
I picked up at Libertad's my old SIM, I borrowed from Kathy and Rod a Nokia mobile an that was it.
Ok, now I got a job, I work as a Tutor at UNSW. There shouldn't be any problem with the application at this point.
This time I went to Vodafone, just because of 2 reasons:
1.- I got a Vodafone SIM
2.- I was a bit resentful with Telstra (I'm aware it's not a nice thing to say)
So... Once again: I gave the girl m documentation, I passed the identification test, we went to the computer, got to the financial section, pointed out my new job at the UNSW... anddddddd... Buzzer once again...
Why??? Well again "financial reliability"... But why? Well you have to work AT LEAST 15 hours a week for the system to allow you getting a plan.
So I kept my prepaid plan with my friends' phone.
Third and final attempt:
Well, my employment situation hasn't changed so far. So what do you think I did?
I friend posted on Facebook that Vodafone gave her a brand new iPhone just for her to renew her postpaid plan with them and she didn't want it because she has a Blackberry that she uses to talk to her family in Venezuela. Oh, and the phone was unlocked!!!
So I contacted her, found out she was selling it at a really good price and that she could let me pay her in three parts... As you can imagine that was a deal I couldn't say no to.
In the end we met at the Vodafone shop, she gave me the phone, the guy in the store put in my prepaid SIM (after cutting it). And that was it.
I got my iPhone, I still pay 30$ a month (instead of 69$), I could change to any other company if I wanted to, and when doing some maths, I'm saving like 300$... So I'm a happy girl jajajaja
With the iPhone: a month after
Yes, it's been a month since I got the phone. But I can tell you it's amazing. Not only because of all the apps that you can install and use, such as the Knowledge Practice Test of the RTA (to practice for the exam), Trip View and Transit Info (to know what transport and connections you have to make within Sydney), Urbanspoon (to find restaurants nearby you with a price or speciality criteria) and so on and on... But also because you can chat and talk with family and friends anywhere.
In fact, I'm writing this post in my mobile... Just to see how this app works (Blogger) and what does this look like after publishing because you can't edit text and stuff here.
I know you can do it with any smartphone, but I really love this one.
domingo, 18 de marzo de 2012
As I got here to Australia one of the things I had on my mind I had (should) do before getting a full time job was this: changing my electoral registry, so I started evaluating the options all of them to go by myself:
- Staying in Canberra over night: regarding that there were two options; the first one was paying for a hotel or hostel, at least that was going to be at least 50$, so NO; the second option was waiting for a friend who is arriving in Canberra in about 2 weeks, and that option was also out of the question (in fact I even didn't tell this option to my friend, she may find about this as she reads this post) because I thought she and her family were just going to be settling and I was going to be in their way.
- Going and returning in the same day: well that was the only option so I started looking for a way to go...
- By plane: around 220$as cheap each way, so in total 440$, so NO
- By train: around 80$ a return trip, more affordable, so COULD BE
- By bus: a return trip in 50$... THAT WAS IT
Besides that I had to think about the transport expenses in Canberra, and in the possibility of having to take a taxi home from Parramatta, because of the hour the bus gets to Sydney. In the end it was going to be quite a bit of money but I was going to go for it because I think it's an important thing to do.
The day I decided this I got from 3 different friends (Kathy. Arturo and Carlos) a mail saying that the guys that organised the "Operativo" in Sydney in December, were organising another "Operativo" but this time to go to Canberra to register ourselves.
It was 50$ a piece, for renting a bus that was going to take us straight to the embassy and back.
Today, Saturday, was that day. I have to say that this was also possible because the embassy opened their doors a Saturday for us to come in to do this errand.
From Sydney in the bus we were 14 people, from Melbourne were around 80 something, there were people from Perth and Brisbane who went by themselves, as well as others from Sydney... in total we were around 190 people changing our voting address to Australia... we did it!!!
Here are some pics of the event and the group.
On our way… a little bit of rain
Still on our way
A glimpse of Canberra
The entrance of the Embassy
The embassy and the Venezuelans waiting to come in…
Playing one of the national sports (Domino) while waiting
On the bus…the group
More of Canberra
More of Canberra
Some estrange sheep on our way back home
viernes, 16 de marzo de 2012
Ok... last post the only thing I did was write about time. In this one I'm going to address some other aspects (with no particular order)
Some people say it's a wonder and you MUST take it... some other people say it's useless to attend to it. MY OPINION so far (just finished my 2nd week there) is: do it!!! and do it for several reasons: (1) They teach you things about recruiters and the Australian job Market that you just don't know; they even teach you about if the recruiters like or don't like bold and underlined resumes; (2) Your teacher not only corrects your resume like a hundred times (so far I've corrected mine 3 times) but also advises you what to say word by word in an interview depending on your work experience; (3) at least 12 hours a week you HAVE TO practise your English; (4) this is a very good opportunity to listen to other accents and try to understand them; and (5) you get to socialise a bit... and even maybe get a job through networking (you never know).
The distances: although you may have noticed from my previous posts, Sydney is a really LARGE city, so you have to evaluate before moving, where do you want to live (ask around about the suburbs), prioritise what is important to you: time?, money?, your own body? I'm assuming all of the above, but sadly you can't have it all in Sydney.
It can take you up to 2 hours to go from a place to another, easily!!! and may be even more at night depending on where you life. So, if you're short of money there's something you'll need to sacrifice.
Transport system: in general, for a newly arrived, Sydney had a pretty decent transport system (if you have more than 5 years you'll say the system is DREADFUL*) jejeje... well anyway... even I that come from a country with a really DREADFUL transport system, notice that this one has a lot of flaws, that it can be easily improved. For example there are places where you can. only access by bus... when you think about it it's not bad at all, the problem comes when you have to leave early in the morning or arrive late at night... the farther* away and less connection you have with the city the more the chances if having a working bus decreases.
The language - talking and understanding the Englishes: no, that isn't a mistake or a typo, I'm aware there is a spelling and grammar mistake, but I did it on purpose!!! Because here there isn't just one English, there are LOTS of different Englishes!!!! jajaja, the Aussie, the British, the American, the Latin-American, the Chinese, the Korean, the Thai, the Iranian, and so on and on. It's a little bit tricky to understand all of them, but sincerely so far (until today) I didn't have so much trouble understanding people... of course with some people you have to be more attentive*, but in general it was ok; sometimes there were things I didn't understand but nothing out of this world... UNTIL TODAY!!!! Today at my tutorial I had the most hard time understanding my students!!! Since this week we changed our groups into are definitive* ones, and in mine I have like 10 Asians (got the feeling all of them Chinese) from which I couldn't understand 3 of them at all!!! I just nodded :S and there was also this Australian guy that seemed he had a potato in his mouth!!! he was the worst of all, the most difficult one for me to understand... I wanted to run away from there!!! :( But well, next week I'll come a lot more prepared (psychologically) and I know it'll be a lot easier and better.
The odours: well it's not like some may say that everyone in the train stinks, in fact I haven't had so many encounters* of that type; but what I can say with property is that the few people with b.o. (body odour) they don't just smell bad, they REALLY STINK!!! Stink in a way even if you keep your breath, you still can smell them!!! The worst that's happened to me so far was my first day of classes 2 weeks ago. I was walking from home to get the bus and this odour came to me, I didn't know where it was coming from. I couldn't believe it when I realised it was a man more than a block away from me!!! Do you want to know the worst part? He took the same bus I took... you can imagine the rest.
Looking for a place to share: ok, this is the most difficult thing ever!!! jajaja... what I was talking before about sacrifice, well in order for me to live near the city, so it doesn't take me 2 hours at night to come home or stay as a refugee on weekends, and most of all that I can afford, well I have to let go for a while the idea of living by myself... I have to share a flat. So far I've looked at 5 places... and well I'm still looking. In another post I'll write specifically about that.
Well that's it for tonight!!! This post is getting a larger than I planned
jueves, 15 de marzo de 2012
Yes, I know... I've been lost; out if the picture; away... whatever you want to call it... it has been a while since I've written on my blog.
The truth is I've been busy... doing what? REALLY I don't know!!!
Time: here in Oz, I don't know why, but time seems to pass by a LOT faster. In a blink of an eye it's already noon, and in the next one it's 9 pm. All the things I told myself I was going to do this first month, well I haven't done half of it. In this first month I told myself I was going to:
- Start the skillmax course
- Elaborate my portfolio
- Work on my thesis
- Look and apply for jobs on a daily bases
- Look for a place to move
- Socialise with my friends here
- Buy some things for when I move
- Go to yoga classes
What of those have I actually done?
Well, I'm going to yoga classes, I started the skillmax course, I socialised too much, I've looked for a place to live (hopefully tomorrow I'll know where), only bought a printer and some towels... and that's it!!! I haven't look for a job on a daily bases (only have so far applied for one position... not very good statistics for me), haven't even looked at my thesis files and haven't finished my portfolio... so, all the important things I have left behind.
Well it's not that I have the best timetable, and living far from the city doesn't help.
|Going 2 skillmax||Going 2 skillmax||Going 2 skillmax|
|Afternoon||Skillmax||Skillmax||Skillmax||Going to UNSW|
|Arriving home||Arriving home||Arriving home||Arriving home|
Besides that, for the course I'm tutoring, I have to read A LOT, so all my train rides and my Thursday mornings are only for reading (and tonight writing this post).
The day I turned one month here I realised all of the above... so I told myself to change that, though it's not going to be that easy these 2 next weeks.
This Saturday I'm going to Canberra to register myself to vote in October; on Sunday Clau comes to Sydney for a few days; then on Tuesday Javi comes for a while... and then I have to move.
At nights I'm too tired, and it's too late, to turn the computer on to work. I usually arrive Mon-Wed at 9 pm - today at 11; and on Thursdays I arrive at 11... on the weekends I feel like a refugee, 'cause I stay with friends because of the transport issue to get home - f.e. this Friday I'm staying with a friend in order to be in Central at 7am Saturday, because the first bus I can catch to get to the Parramatta Station is at 6:40 am, which doesn't work for me, because I'd arrive at Central aprox at 7:40am)
Anyway, stop complaining!!! The thing is I have to kick myself in order to finish my portfolio, start applying for jobs on daily bases and finish my thesis.
I'll let you know how that worked :-)
viernes, 2 de marzo de 2012
(I wrote this yesterday night in the train coming home)
Today I'm arriving home from my first local job. I started today as a tutor (kind of an academic assistant) in the course "Sustainable Development and the Urban Environment" from the Master in Sustainable Development in the UNSW.
Now, why the title of the post? Why "networking"? Well, thanks to this I got this job. Last year at the congress I attended in Perth, I met a professor of the UNSW. We exchanged a few emails after the congress and of course this year I let him know I was arriving in Sydney in February. To make the story short, we met and while talking about my settlement here I let him know I was looking for a job... after enquiring about whether I wanted to work in the academic or professional area (both of them which I love) and about my visa conditions, he said: "You know, Gaby, this trimester I'm teaching a course about urban design and sustainability and I've been told I can work with 4 tutors (he explained what that was here and the responsibilities of the position). It's only for this trimester and only a few hours a week, but if you'd like I can send you the syllabus for you to read and if you're interested I'd be happy to work with you."
As you can imagine I was jumping up and down in my head, dancing as the Ally McBeal baby jajaja, but had my poker face on jajaja... so we agreed to that. He also asked me to send him my resume and a sustainable urban project in which I have worked.
We started talking about the last project I worked in and that I left it because of ethical principles, and about the way I design and how people for me is the most important aspect of the design process... well it turned out that he thought the same way I did... ; he said that after all he heard he would gladly work with me in any project :-)
Anyway, the next day I sent him the resume and images if that project, he sent me the syllabus, I called him a couple if hours later and told him I'd love to work as a tutor for his course :-) and that was it.
Today I submitted to the uni the signed contract and had my first class. The best thing is that this is a course I would have taken because it's not only an interesting topic but also a cutting edge approach. I'm going to learn SO MUCH, because I have to understand and manage all the materials in order to be able to guide the students... and all of those are topics I can easily apply to my professional area... it's going to be great!!! And the best of all is the timetable... the class is Thursdays from 6-9 pm so I can keep looking and get a full time job without interfering with one another.
So keep working on your networks and above all be true to yourselves!!!!
lunes, 27 de febrero de 2012
As I told you in my last post, the day I arrived I applied to get the TFN and the day after I enrolled myself in Medicare.
Well, last Wednesday I got by mail the letter of the Australian Taxation Office with my TFN. Now I can legally get paid when I get a job and I can go to the bank to register my TFN in order to get full interest on my savings account without the government tax withholding.
Later this week on Friday I got my Medicare card, also by mail.
Now, about renting, I'm talking about looking for a place to live. Although I have already rented a place for 8 weeks and I have only been here for 2 (I still have 6 more weeks in my current place), I have started to look around some of the suburbs of Sydney. This not only to get to know them, but also because of a matter of time. I've been told that here most places that are shown for rent/lease are not available right away. Most of the times the list comes out 2-4 weeks before it actually becomes available for you to move in. So in about 2 weeks I have to formally begin to look for a place to live.
Although Juanpa and Caro told me I can stay there for two more weeks than we agreed, and though I really like North Parramatta, I do want to start looking for another place closer to the city, or at least closer to the train station, where I don't have to depend on the bus. Even better I'd like to look for a place near my full-time job (which I'm going to get really soon) in order for me to walk there or at most go by bike.
In that order of ideas I've found that North Parramatta is REALLY FAR from the civilization... it takes me about an hour and a half on weekdays to get to the city, from the moment I open my door. On weekends it may be a little bit longer... and that is in regular bases. Yesterday, for example, there where train repairs in 4 stations prior to Parramatta, so I had to take a bus from Granville... well, going from Zetland where Arturo and Cari live (near the CBD) to my place and then to Coogee beach (like 20-30 min by bus from Central Station) took us about 4 and a half hours!!!!!!! We got to the beach almost at 7 pm... as you can imagine we didn't bathe or anything. We walked for a while, ate something, spent some time there and around 10:30 went back home. Well, I stayed all weekend with them at their place... if after going to Coogee I would have wanted to go home, it would have taken me at LEAST 2 hours, and I'm not sure I would have found a bus at that hour of the night.
… So, I want to move closer to the city. It would be great to live there by myself in a one-bedroom unit, but it’s quite expensive; so I’m considering sharing a two-bedrooms, two-bathrooms unit with someone (if you, reader, are interested in this, don’t hesitate in contacting me).
On the next post I’ll write about the areas I’d love or at least would be nice to live in.
viernes, 24 de febrero de 2012
As I said in my prior post, from now on I'm writing my posts in English, to embrace my arrival at my new country. So I'm telling you the story of my first week here day by day :-), not only as an anecdote, but also as a guide of the first errand you have to do as soon as you get to Oz.
Last Sunday 12.2.12 at 10:40am Ellu and I arrived from a 40 hours trip to the Sydney airport. Tired, smelling like crap, but most of all: REALLY EXCITED... our new life was just beginning.
We stepped of the plane and headed off to immigration where our passports where stamped (and our yellow fever international card was checked). As I declared I carried wood (I had a jewellery box made out of wood, a belt and a scent burner) they made me go through the AQUIS stage, where all my luggage went through a scanner and where they made me open the suitcase with the wood in it. After checking it they let me go with a smile and good wishes regarding my migration.
At the airport Ellu met with his brother and sister in law (which I knew from school 'cause I studied with her sister since the 4th grade until high school graduation); well, and I met with Juanpa, the guy who rented me his unit for 8 weeks. At home, Caro and Lucas (his wife and gorgeous baby) were waiting for us :). Juanpa and Caro are these Venezuelans I got to know through Aussie Neighbour, because of a post they wrote renting their unit. We spoke using Skype and we liked each other right away. They are an awesome couple I'm really happy to have met.
Well, continuing with my arrival story... that day after arriving, I took a really needed shower, we had some lunch and then we departed on the mission: KEEPING-GABY-AWAKE-TO-AVOID-JETLAG jajaja.
We went to the supermarket and I did my first on-arrival shopping. The good thing is that I only needed to buy food and cleaning things, because their unit is fully equipped.
We got back home at 7 pm more or less. I turned the computer on to write an email to my mom and dad and to apply for the Tax File Number.
The process is really simple... you enter their website and just follow instructions. The only 2 things you need for that are your current address where they can send you the TFN and your passport (because you need to fill in our passport number and some data about your visa). When you're done, make sure to write down the confirmation number and wait for it to arrive by post mail.
Finally, at 9pm I went to bed :-)
Day 2- Monday 13rd:
I woke up quite early, at 7am... turned the computer on, talked a bit with my mom (she met the guys) and had a nice breakfast with them.
Juanpa and I left the house around 9:30am, went to the post office to pick up a package they were waiting for and I "aproveché" to send to the Venezuelan Embassy in Canberra the papers they ask for in order to get the Consular Registration my mom to "tramitar" "Cadivi Remesa Familiar" [in another post I'll write about this].
After that we took the bus to the Parramatta Westfield, which is quite close (even walking distance depending on how much of a hurry you are). There I enrolled into Medicare. You have to fill up a form, then they (the person who is with you) put your data in the computer and give you a. receipt and you have to wait about a week for the card to arrive also by post mail.
Well, then we went to the city to the main branch of the Commonwealth Bank where I opened my account. Why? Well, because if you open an account being abroad, you have to activate it as soon as you arrive in the country so you can use your money. But that can be done at any bank branch, however my debit card was there, so I did both things in one trip: activate the account and pick up the card. I also updated my home address and asked for statements because you may need them for some transactions and errands.
Then, after staying a bit in the city, we went back home to have lunch with Caro and Lucas. After that the 3 of us went again to the Westfield in Parramatta in order for me to get my so desired iPhone. This first time I couldn't get it because I didn't reach the 100 points I needed (the phone story is going to be written in another post). The recommendation of the clerk was for me to get a Photo ID issued by the RTA... with that I could reach the needed points. Then we went home and it was time to go to bed.
Day 3- Tuesday 14th:
Juanpa, Caro and Lucas left at 7am to go to the airport to catch a plane to Venezuela. It was my first day by myself.
I had a great breakfast (English muffins with cheese cream and scrambled eggs) and headed off to the RTA.
I got there, took 2 numbers (I didn't know at first which was the one I needed to take), filled a form and waited. When they called my number I went to the booth and gave my passport, the filled form and the bank statement where I had my full name with my current address. Everything so far was perfect until the attendant said: "It's 46$"... when I heard that the phrase that popped in my head was: "WTF!!!!!!!"... and well, with a smile I handed my credit card. Then he took my picture. and in about 10 minutes I left the building with my Photo ID... ready to get my so desired iPhone.
Got to the Westfield, which is only 2 blocks away from the RTA, went directly to Telstra, and after a second attempt I left the store with NO iPhone (again, this deserves its own post). Anyway, after that I was supposed to meet Ellu at Town Hall station, but for that I had to call her from the new phone I didn't have, so I ask for the Telstra girl for a phone where I could call and she allowed me I use the one from the store... after 6 times trying to connect with Ellu I left her a voice message in her sister-in-law's mobile and got even more frustrated jajaja. Then I called Liber, one of my best friends here, who had a pin I bought last year, so she could give it to me to have a phone... guess what?!?! I also reached her voice mail!!! So, no comments.
I left frustrated as hell and went to Town Hall and when Ellu didn't arrive I went to Bondi Junction to get my originals and translations (of the documents I used for the visa application ) from the SCA people.
I got there at 1 pm, expecting the worse, taking under consideration the morning I had. But everything worked out perfectly after that.
Yenny (in behalf of Penny jejeje) took all my documents, gave them to me and the receptionist let me use the phone to call Liber again... this time she DID pick up the phone (in the morning she was vacuuming so she didn't hear it ring). We talked and agreed to meet in Hornsby 'cause she had a doctor's appointment there at 2:30pm.
I went as quickly as I could (Hornsby is far from Bondi Junction) and got to her GP at 2:15... we talked a few minutes and when she was called in, I took Sophia, her gorgeous daughter, and went for a walk :-) (I bought myself a new pillow... really nice, soft and Eco-friendly made by recycled plastic bottles)...
At 3 we returned and met with Liber. We were together until 4:20 aprox 'cause at 6 I was going to meet Arturo (another close friend) at Green Square 'cause I was going to borrow from him a phone (a perfect “potecito”) which is the one I used until Sunday. We met, talked for 15 min, he gave me the phone and walked me back to the station. I got home that day at 8 pm.
I didn't stay longer with him because although I know, rationally, that here walking at night on the streets is safe, there is still some Venezuelan paranoia in me that makes me feel a bit scared of walking alone in the dark.
After arriving home, I made the application to enrol myself in the Skillmax course, which is meant for migrants to help you write resumes and cover letters in the Aussie way, so it becomes easier to apply and get a job.
The process to enrol depends on where you want t study. If it's in the city Ames you can do it online... you need to fill up the application and then upload some docs: your visa (has to be a 175 or 176), your IELTS results (minimum overall score of 6,5), and your qualifications (which I uploaded both in Spanish and the translation I picked up in SCA earlier that day).
Day 4- Wednesday 15th:
This day I was supposed to straighten my things and put my place in order... all my clothes were still in the suitcases. But instead I spent all morning talking through Skype with my mom and dad in a group call... it was hilarious!!!
I also spent my morning applying for a job in the City of Sydney (let's see if something comes out of it - fingers crossed)... it was quite an application, because besides having to modify my CV and cover letter to be suitable for that specific job, I had to write 3 paragraphs about how I met the selection criteria and I had to upload my qualifications, which I did both in Spanish and its translations.
That morning I also received an email from the Skillmax saying I was accepted in the course starting Monday 5th of March, and if I wanted to study there I had to accept some conditions in order to verify my enrolment.
I didn't do that at that time 'cause I wanted to see if I could enrol for the one beginning the prior week which was going to take place in Chastwood. So Ellu and I decided to go there ad fond out if we could do that.
Around 2 pm we met in the Chatswood station, after I went to the Westfield there to buy some credit for my prepaid phone. We walked to the Macquarie Community College where the course was supposed to take place, and guess what?!!! It didn't exist anymore!!! All the neighbours guess they moved (all in shock).
Well, after that we decided to go to the city to enjoy the rest of the day.
That night I confirmed my enrolment in the city's Skillmax course: I begin classes the 5 of March; Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 1 to 5 pm
Day 5 - Thursday 16th:
That was the day!!! I was going to straighten my things out!!! But noooooooooo
I went to the bank to make a deposit, and walking to Parramatta I saw a bus that went straight to Ellu's place... so I texted her and took the bus there and we spent the day together.
While being together I had lunch... my first Laksa here :-)
Day 6 - Friday 17th:
Well... on Friday morning I stayed home... FINALLY storing my clothes in the closet... didn't finish but was a very good start.
Friday afternoon I went to Waitara to meet Coralia and Leo. Cora is an architect I met in our Aussie Neighbour. She is quite a special person, really nice and easy going, and very willing to help and give a hand in whatever she can.
Leo and Cora gave me some advise regarding my resume and cover letter, being one of the most important ones that in the cover letter we must write the same exact words that appear on the job add. For example if the add says:"we need an experienced architect with strong skills in Autocad" well, you MUST write exactly that. Why? Because both the cover letter and resume are scanned by a software that looks for the key words; if you don't have them, you won't be even considered.
Day 7 - Saturday 18:
That day I finished with my clothes in the morning and in the afternoon our group met in Arturo and Carila's place to celebrate we all were finally in Sydney, the first of us to be working (Arturo) and our first Aussie to be born this week: Anabella :-) We had a GREAT time.
To end my first seven days in Sydney that night I had my first fire test... I ripped my insecurity-feeling-band aid off: for the first time I was walking home by myself in the dark at night. It was a mix of emotions among frightened to death, happy, excited, nervous, etc. I got home almost bursting into tears because of something that should be natural, something that here is natural... it was my first time and I had a mix of emotions.
After that I'm not afraid anymore to walk home at night.